1 Corinthians 15: 33Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”
I would be rather sad if saw my name, or in fact the name of any of my friends or family, on the list of the “30 Worst Clubhouse Cancers in Baseball History” (http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1035006-30-worst-clubhouse-cancers-in-baseball-history). While of course subjective, when you read some of the reasons that each player is on the list, and if you research them further on your own, it becomes difficult to argue with their inclusions.
One name that made the list was Albert Belle, a power hitter and perennial All-Star in the 1990’s. He had a reputation as being a hothead, especially with the media, but the reason he made number 19 out of 30 was an incident in 1994. “When Belle was caught with a corked bat, he famously sent teammate Jason Grimsley to retrieve it from the umpires’ locker room during the game.”[i] In what sounds too crazy to be true, White Sox manager Gene Lamont was tipped that the Indian’s Albert Belle was using a corked bat (by drilling into a bat and inserting cork, the ball will fly further). So, the manager challenged the bat and the umpire had it confiscated and locked up in the umpires’ dressing room. Knowing the bat was corked, Belle had Jason Grimsley crawl up along the ceiling from the clubhouse, to the umpire’s room, switching Belle’s bat with teammate Paul Sorrento’s bat. It didn’t take Sherlock to uncover the scam, however, when the umpire noticed the replacement bat was not as shiny and it was also stamped with Sorrento’s signature.
In fairness, I do not know Albert Belle, but the above story provides such a great example of how one person’s foolish and unethical conduct can corrupt others. I’m not sure how teammate Grimsley got coerced into being the one to undertake the failed caper, but he somehow got involved in something utterly foolish and potentially career-ending. “Many view the bat heist as almost heroic, though it might not fit into his mother’s description of Grimsley as a ‘very Christian boy’”[ii] “Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.’” (1 Corinthians 15:33).
The choice of friends is one of the most critical things you will ever do, because they will ultimately change who you are, either beneficially or negatively. There have been periods in my own youth where I did not choose wisely and it was not long until I was acting out of character, and morphing into someone I really did not know, or cared to know. As a Christian, we are called to love others (Matthew 12:31), to share Christ with them (Matthew 28-19-20) and even be there to serve them in distress (Luke 10: 25-37), but we need to be cautious with whom enters our “inner sanctuary of friends”, particularly if your faith is not firm. You must honestly ask yourself when evaluating your circle of friends: “am I influencing them more towards Christ than they are influencing me away from Him?” There is a reason that King Solomon wrote: “Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm”. (Proverbs 13:20)
Go before the Lord today and ask Him if He is pleased with the friends you encircle yourself with. If not, pray to God and ask him to show you the friends who will challenge you to be more Christ-like. “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17)